We had a raucous Christmas Eve last night. The Yankee Swap had 34 participants. This year’s theme was “something bedazzled,” the swap gift had to have been enhanced by the addition of rhinestones, glitter or other sparklies. The theme was an homage to the Bedazzler, a tool that took anything from “dull to dazzling,” which had figured prominently in earlier swaps, most notably when my sister-in-law, having drawn the number 1, used her final pick to take a Bedazzler from my brother David. The scars were still fresh two years ago when we had to write poems to accompany our gifts and David rhymed spazzler with bedazzler, referring of course to that fateful moment.
My son, motivated by Macklemore, found a denim jacket at Goodwill. He decorated it with all manner of adhesive rhinestones, spelling out Ho ho ho. I am pretty sure that’s what it said although I only saw one.
The pink plastic Jesus Magic 8 Ball made a return to the swap after a few years off, this time with rhinestone tear drops. Oddly (or not, knowing my family and friends), there were two more bedazzled Jesuses (Jesi?) in this year’s grab, with ruby crystal stigmata, a gold tooth and a bobble head. There were bedazzled yarmulkes, gnomes, food choppers, cds, condiments, and bedazzled boxes holding scratch tickets from the Massachusetts State Lottery (my mother calls it our favorite Christmas charity).
When the swap wrapped up, the children (the youngest is now 13) gathered around their grandfather for the traditional reading of the “Night Before Christmas,” from a classic children’s literature collection book that was mine as a child, and the accompanying heckling–which took on new intensity as the grandchildren felt they had to make up for the absence of David, usually the loudest and rudest heckler. Hard to believe that a 13-year old boy (and his nearly 50-year old uncle) still giggle at the “breast of the new fallen snow.” David can be proud of his legacy, and while we missed him terribly, he really was here in spirit.
The “reading” was followed by a lively recitation by the entire family of “The Goops,” a poem from 1900 that became part of our Christmas tradition merely by its presence in the same book from which my father reads. When my brother Rob proposed to his now-wife on Christmas Eve many years ago, she had to recite “The Goops” alone, a “Diner”-like challenge before joining the family.
Our Christmas Eve celebration is always full of laughter and love, and never did I need it more than during this particularly sad Christmas season. I am so grateful to all of my family and friends for sharing our traditions and for making new ones, and for reminding me of all I have.